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us; for no such thing, as the condescension just represented, is required of us. We are not taught to be willing to descend into some inferior species of beings, and therein to be debilitated and incommoded, and lose all our rationality, for a while at least. But what we are taught is, that we should act modestly and meekly in the condition assigned us, and in which God has made us.
7. If the body of Jesus had been animated by so great a spirit as its soul, there would have been nothing at all extraordinary in his resurrection and ascension. And yet how does the apostle labour in describing this great instance of divine power? Eph. i. 19, 20, “ That ye may know what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward, who believe, according to the working of his mighty power; which be wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." But what is there extraordinary in it, that a being who, under God, had made the world, should be raised up, and ascend, and be seated in the heavenly places, where he had been long before?
8. Once more; this doctrine of the transcendent glory and power of Christ before his coming into the world, is inconsistent with the representations given throughout scripture of his exaltation after his death, as a reward of his humility and obedience upon earth. For the text, agreeably to many others, says: “ Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.” But there is no exaltation, to which any being can be advanced, that would exceed what the creator was entitled to, as such. Has he not as creator, under God, of all things visible and invisible, a natural right to dominion and authority over them, and to precedence before and above all others? How then could dominion and authority over all things be the reward of Christ's humility and patience, and other virtues here on earth?
What adds weight to this consideration is, that this doctrine weakens, and even destroys the argument set before us to humility and meekness, which is taken from the exaltation of Jesus. . For according to it, he has no advancement, and indeed could have no advancement, after all he had done here, but what he was entitled to without it.
I must not stay to state and answer objections. But there is one text, so likely to occur to the thoughts of many, that it may be best to take notice of it. It is in the
prayer recorded, John xvii, where at ver. 5, is this petition of our Lord. “ And now, O Father, glorify thou me with the
glory which I had with thee before the world was.” It any should urge this text, as an objection against some things just said, I would answer; the most likely meaning of these words is to this purpose. Our Lord was here approaching to the affecting scene of his last sufferings, and the conclusion of his life here on earth, in which he had acted with great zeal and faithfulness for the glory of God, and the good of men. And having so fulfilled the commission given bim, he solemnly and humbly addresses God, saying, “ I have glorified thee on earth. I have finished the work, which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with the glory wbich I had with thee before the world was :" that is, which had been always, and from the beginning designed for me. So Rev. xii. 8, “ The lamb slain," that is, designed to be slain,“ before the foundation of the world.” Eph. i. 4, “ According as he has chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world.” Col. ij. 3, “ Your life is bid with Christ in God.” See also Epb. iii. 9, and Matt. xxv. 34; and other like places. So the glory, which was to be the reward of what Jesus should do on earth, was always with God. It was “ with him," in his purpose: “ hid with bim, before the world was.” To the like effect St. Augustin very largely. And if there is any
reward annexed to our Lord's services and sufferings here on earth, (as certainly there is,) very probably that is what is here intended.
These things I have now proposed to your consideration. I do not dictate. But let it be considered, whether this scheme be not attended with difficulties. Many pious and learned men may have taken it up, for avoiding difficulties in the commonly received doctrine. Nevertheless this also may be found to have difficulties that must weaken the persuasion of its truth and probability.
God willing, I intend to represent another opinion hereafter. For the present I shall conclude with the following remarks.
We may hence receive instruction. We should not be too much opinionated of ourselves, because we know more truths than others. Let us rather suppose that we may be mistaken; sensible, that in many points of speculation there
Cum ergo videret illius prædestinatæ suæ clarificationis venisse jam tempus, ut et nunc fieret in redditione, quod fuerat in prædestinatione jam factum, oravit, dicens : “ Et nunc clarifica me, tu Pater, apud teipsum, claritate quam habui priusquam mundus esset, apud te:” tanquam diceret, claritatem quam habui apud te, id est; illam claritatem, quam habui apud te in prædestinatione tuâ, tempus est, ut apud te habeam etiam vivens in dexterâ tuâ. In Joan. Evang. xvii. tract. 105. p. 8. tom. III. Bened. p. 2.
are difficulties which may be overlooked by us; and that our scheme may be liable to objections which we have not observed. Neither all wisdom, nor all truth is monopolized by any one man, or sect of men. He who has gained truth fairly, by impartial and laborious examination and inquiry, will be under little temptation to insult or despise others whom he thinks to be in error or ignorance, if they be but open to conviction. He knows that things appear in different lights to different persons, and to the same person at different times. He has, perhaps, been positive in some points, which he has afterwards seen to be mistaken opinions ; though he was all the while sincere. He must therefore allow the innocence of error in some cases. Let us not be too desirous that others should agree with us in opinion. Let us love and honour them, if they are honest and virtuous; which many may be, who are not of the same sentiment with us, and see not things in the same light that we do. If we desire to experience moderation from others, let us show it ourselves, as there is occasion. Let not our faith, our knowledge, or opinion of it, produce arrogance and censoriousness. But as St. James directs; if we are wise men, and endued with knowledge, let us show out of a good conversation our works with meekness of wisdom, Jam. iii. 13. Or, let us show our wisdom by a truly pious and virtuous conversation, and by meekness of behaviour towards others.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
And what follows. Philip. ii. 5–11. I HAVE proposed to explain this text largely and distinctly. And though this design may lead me to be somewhat controversial, and to treat some points which are, and long have been, disputed among christians; I have hoped that I should have no reason to decline freedom and plainness of expression. It is very common for men in public, as well as private discourses, to assert their own sentiment, and to refute, or do what lies in their power to refute, the schemes and sentiments of others. Nor is it uncommon for men of low rank and condition, to think themselves capable judges of what are reckoned the most sublime and mysterious doc
trines, and to pass sentences, not very favourable, upon those who are of a different opinion from themselves. There cannot be then, I apprehend, any sufficient reason to condemn an attempt to represent in a fair and impartial manner divers sentiments concerning the Deity, and the person of Christ, together with the reasons and arguments by which they are supported.
I have already considered two schemes, concerning the Deity, and a Trinity, and the person of Christ; one, that which is reckoned the commonly received opinion, or orthodox; the other sometimes called Arianism. The third, to be now considered, is sometimes called the doctrine of the Unitarians or the Nazareans. These believe that there is one God alone, even the Father, eternal, almighty, possessed of all perfections, without any defects, or limits, unchangeable, the Creator of all things visible and invisible, the supreme Lord and Governor of the world, whose providential care upholds all things, who spoke to the patriarchs in the early ages of the world, to the people of Israel by Moses, and other prophets, and in these latter ages of the world to all mankind by Jesus Christ, and by him will distribute equal recompenses to all, according to their behaviour in this world.
For farther illustrating this point, it will be proper to show more distinctly the opinion of those persons concerning God the Father, or the Divine Unity, the person of Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
First, Concerning God the Father, or the Divine Unity ; which appears to be the doctrine of the Old and New Tess tament, from the beginning to the end.
Moses, the Jewish lawgiver, and their greatest prophet, before the gospel-dispensation, begins his five books with an account of the creation of the world.
The first of the ten commandments, delivered with so great solemnity to the Jewish people, soon after their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and before they were put into possession of Canaan, as a distinct and independent nation and people, is, “ I am the Lord thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” Exod. xx. 1, 2; that is, before my face, in my sight, to which all things are open, from whom no deviation from this law can be bid, and will be overlooked and unresented. In the fourth of those ten laws or commandments, it is said, “ Remember the sabbath-day to keep it holy- -For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day," ver. 10, 11.
After the rehearsal of those commandments, and other
Ps. Ixxxiii. 28, “ That men may know, that thou, whose
Isa. xl. 28, “ Hast thou not known, bast thou not heard,
Isa. xliv, 6, “ Thus saith the Lord, the king of Israel, and
Such, then, is the doctrine of the Old Testament. There
Let us now observe the doctrine of the New Testament,
Matt. iv. 9, 10, When Satan tempted our Lord, and said,
Mark xü. 28–34, “ And one of the scribes came,
Luke xviii, 18, 19, “ And a certain ruler asked him, say-
John xvii. 1-3, “ These words spake Jesus, and lift up